How Much More Sharply is the Temperature Increasing as of 2014 - 2016?
Since 2000 and on the rate at which the temperature of earth is increasing has gone up dramatically, even more so from 2014-2016. In fact, NASA scientists explain that “globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.” Global warming had already begun in infancy during the mid 20th century, but now this statistic demonstrates the enormous skyrocket of almost an entire degree celsius measured in 2016. The total warming of earth has increased dramatically over the last three years. The temperatures recorded now are the highest ever. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that “the six-month period from January to June was also the planet's warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.” For any given period of time, the last three years have been the hottest ever measured. These spikes in the already existing climate change trend aren’t without cause.
What are the Causes of this Spike?
In addition to greenhouse gases, the recent trend of hottest years was caused by an El Nino. An El Nino is a pattern of naturally caused warming of the water in the Pacific Ocean. It is a contributor to the spiking heat. This is confirmed by meteorologist and writer for “The Weather Underground,”Jeff Masters, who said, “El Niño can also affect temperature. The warming water tends to boost global air temperatures by at least 0.1°C . This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually certain that 2015 will be Earth's second consecutive warmest year on record.” The heat trapping gases like CO2 are trapping not only the sun’s heat, but now the heat caused by this El Nino, causing the rise of earth's temperature to increase much faster within these years. Although an El Nino was a natural event that caused an increased heating, many still put the bulk of the blame on greenhouse gases. NASA’s lead scientist of the Goddard Institute, Gavin Schmidt, affirmed that “a strong El Niño this past year did contribute to these temperatures, but the continued warming trend is mostly due to the effects of greenhouse gases.” Greenhouse gases are still playing the most pivotal role in recent years, causing the most change, even though the El Nino helped make things worse. If the temperature keeps increasing certain parts of the world could be in dire trouble.
How are Ice Caps affected now?
These hot new years spell disaster for the already melting ice caps. As the arctic melts, the antarctic freezes and gains size, but this not an equal exchange. In fact, “The upward trend in the Antarctic is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.” If the environment were in balance, this exchange of melting and freezing would be equal, however, only about a third of the water that melts from the arctic become ice in the antarctic. This demonstrates the percentage of ice that is being lost to the ocean by becoming water. Not only is the melt - freeze exchange at an all time low, the rate of arctic melting is at an all time high. Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center note, “Arctic sea ice extent for January 2017 averaged 13.38 million square kilometers (5.17 million square miles), the lowest January extent in the 38-year satellite record.” Ice caps are melting faster than ever and are now smaller than they have ever been. This damage is being caused by the increased heat over the last three years. As the ice caps melt more than polar bears will be in trouble.
How Will the New Heat Affect Coastal Flooding?
Scientists are apprehensive as the melting ice caps pose a serious threat to coastal cities. As the sea level rises to ice cap melting, coastal cities are subjected to increased flooding or permanent submergence. In fact, a study done by the EPA found that flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. "Nearly every site measured has experienced an increase in coastal flooding since the 1950s. The rate is accelerating in many locations along the East and Gulf Coasts." This increased flooding applies to all cities on the east coast to a certain degree. As the ice caps melt faster due to the recent surge of heat, this flooding will happen more frequently and be more severe. Affirming this, the study's lead scientist exclaims, “Annapolis, Wilmington, and two locations in New Jersey (Sandy Hook and Atlantic City) have also seen some of the most dramatic overall increases in frequency: floods are now at least 10 times more common there than they were in the 1950s.” The rate at which flooding occurs is unprecedentedly high, just like the heat within the last three years. The connection between the flooding and the heat is real, but there is a way to reduce or even reverse these trends.
How Can The Heat Trend Be Reduced?
There are actions that can be taken and inventions being made to reduce or even reverse the climate spike and its effects. One such action is the practice of regenerative agriculture. Rattan Lal, a scientist studying the effects of regenerative agriculture’s effect on climate change, says, “With proper stewardship, the agricultural soils of the world have the potential to soak up 13 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today -- -the equivalent of scrubbing every ounce of CO2 released into the atmosphere since 1980.” Regenerative agriculture aims to take CO2 out of the sky and back into the soil, curbing the increase of temperature which enriches soil. This process also makes for a mutual benefit between the atmosphere and soil. In addition to changes in human practices, technology is also being invented to help solve this problem. Graciela Chichilnisky is the CEO of Global Thermostat, and the company has developed a carbon vacuum, the SRI, that attaches to factories and can remove more carbon from the atmosphere than the factories emit. Graciela Chichilnisky explains, “A unit like the one at SRI could extract up to 10,000 tons of carbon per year, she said. Bigger versions could capture up to 100,000 tons.” Farms of these SRI units could absorb enough CO2 from the atmosphere to reverse the increased heat trend of 2014 - 2016 and even absorb CO2 released before then. The machine also has several accoutrements to adapt harvesting to suit the factory its attached to. The effects of a warming planet have been felt significantly in the last three years, and more negative effects are occurring as a result, but there is a way this trend can be reversed.